Marie Lipstadt-Pinhas' Story - The Skype Reunion

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Coda has helped Marie Lipstadt-Pinhas find the US soldier who helped liberate her from Turkheim (Dachau) concentration camp in 1945, Harry Hendersin.
Coda a aidé Marie Lipstadt-Pinhas à trouver le soldat américain qui a participé à sa libération du camp de concentration de Turkheim (Dachau), en 1945, Harry Hendersin

To view Channel 8 TV News video footage of Marie's story aired on 25 & 26 Aug 2010 see A Soldier and the Dress Part 1 and A Soldier and the Dress Part 2.

Photos from the Skype video link-up Sunday 13 Jun 2010
Les photos de la conversation video sur Skype du dimanche 13 juin 2010

Harry Hendersin 13 Jun 2010 - Skype image
Harry Hendersin, le 13 juin 2010 - photo prise par Skype

Kim Meyer (Harry's granddaughter) & Harry Hendersin 13 Jun 2010 Skype image
Kim Meyer (la petite fille de Harry) et Harry Hendersin, le 13 juin 2010 - photo prise par Skype

Harry Hendersin, Phil Green & friends at the skype video reunion on 13 Jun 2010 - Skype image
Harry Hendersin, Phil Green et ses amis lors de la réunion du 13 juin 2010 - photo prise par Skype

Marie Lipstadt-Pinhas, seated with her husband, Bernard, shows Harry Hendersin a photo from 1945 - 13 Jun 2010 Skype image
Marie Lipstadt-Pinhas, avec son mari, Bernard; Marie montre à Harry Hendersin une photo de 1945 du 13 juin 2010 - photo prise par Skype

Marie Lipstadt-Pinhas and her husband, Bernard - 13 Jun 2010 Skype image
Marie Lipstadt-Pinhas, avec son mari, Bernard, le 13 juin 2010 - photo prise par Skype

Click here to read the Fort McCoy, Wisconsin USA 25 Jun 2010 News article

WOW!!!! What a day. We have just returned home and are in awe at what we just witnessed. There were a lot of tears of joy and hugs. When we left to take Harry home I asked him what he thought of what just happened. His response was: “I didn't think she would remember me and I want to see her again”. Just to let you know, we took a lot of pictures of everyone and we want to put them together and send them to you so you can put faces to the names. This past week has been an emotional roller coaster. How things came together and the speed and circumstances that surrounded this can only be explained by a song by the musical group the Carpenters: “The angels got together and decided to make a dream come true.” Last Saturday when Harry handed me his letter that he told me he has had for over twenty years, there was a feeling that came over me that I cannot really explain. I knew one thing, and that I was just informed of something that had to be resolved, and it was my responsibility.

During the war Harry was with the 101st Airborne Div. 506th Parachute Regiment. He parachuted into Normandy early on the morning of June 6th 1944. Later in the war he parachuted in Belgium as part of Operation Market Garden. He later was surrounded by the Germans at Bastonge late in December of 1944. The fog lifted and the Allies were able to free the 101st from Bastonge, Harry mentioned how bitter cold it was in Bastonge. They then continued on into Germany where they ended up in Turkheim where Harry and Marie then originally met.

What happened to Harry after the war? He returned home to his family’s farm outside of a small village in western Wisconsin named Leon which is south of Sparta. He got married and had three children (2 boys and a girl) Larry, Leo, and Lynette. He worked at a factory in town as a machinist. He eventually retired and then later sold his farm and moved into Sparta. His wife passed away in 2004. He then moved into an assisted living facility. As you could see Harry cannot speak very well due to his throat condition. He still goes for walks in town and enjoys very much where he lives.

What is my relationship to Harry? I too, was raised on a family farm outside of Leon. His children attended the same school, and that was when I first became aware of Harry. He was my 4H leader. He taught us woodworking. We entered things over the years in the county fairs. His family and mine attended the same church. After I graduated from high school I entered the Navy and was on a submarine. After I was discharged from the Navy I eventually returned to Sparta and joined the local American Legion (a veterans’ organization). There was Harry again. I have been a member of the American Legion for over 30 years. This again gave me the opportunity to be with Harry. As you can see Harry has been a part of my life since I was a small child. When the opportunity arose that I could be his guardian for the Freedom Flight to Washington DC on June 19th, there was no question. He has given so much in his life it was my turn to give back to him.

When I tell this story so many questions arise. When Harry walked off into the distance and there stood a fourteen year old girl with a new dress, what happened next? It must have been terrifying to her to be alone in the middle of a world war. So many people want to know Marie’s story, before and after the war.

Harry today was so excited to see Marie. I'm sure it helps to bring some closure to everyone involved to a time in their lives that must have been indescribable. I have to tell you how happy Harry is. When Phil first told Harry we found Marie and gave him a picture, Harry just kept saying, "Wow, wow, wow"...then he had to get out a handkerchief. He had no idea of Marie's intensive search and commented that he didn't think she would even remember him. He said he wants to see her again. One of the many wonderful things that can come out of this is, it has opened a new chapter in so many peoples lives. This communication will not end today and hopefully continue well into the future.

Marie, last evening we received a phone call from a friend of yours, Charles Gudbrandsen. My wife Lorrie sent him a letter telling him of our news. He was very excited. He told me of his trip to Paris where you and your husband escorted him around town. He asked that we tell you he still loves you!!!

I am putting together some data. We are all looking forward to all future communications. May god bless us all!

The angels did get together and made a dream come true.

Phil and Lorrie Green

Translation Of "My First Dress" Published In Daily Newspaper "La Libre Belgique" 10th Sep 1969

This letter is probably the most emotional that we have received. We publish it in full.

27th April 1945. The cannons thundered the whole night and it was early in the morning that American troops liberated our concentration camp near the village of Tuerckheim, in Bavaria. No outburst surely, in enemy country, but for us, the final certitude to be free and alive. Only fourteen years old and already for me to be aware of all human cruelty - I should say inhuman cruelty, against us.

A little lost, naturally - what to do with this new freedom? - I walked in to Tuerckheim, looking for somebody friendly, when a G.I., very tall, addressed me sharply. I didn't understand English, so I showed him my forearm on which he could clearly see my tattooed concentration camp registration number.

Then, very simply, without comment, he took my hand and led me into a well stocked clothes shop on the village place. Standing me in front of a mirror, the G.I. gave me one dress after another, one too long, the other ugly. I was very moved with gratitude for this man, who during this terrible war, was concerned enough to want to find a nice dress for a young girl, who was wearing rags after being liberated from concentration camp.

We took a dress, without paying, while the shop keeper looked at us in a hostile manner. The soldier was apparently very satisfied to see that I was now nicely dressed. With a strong voice he said, "Bye bye", leaving me and walking off into the distance.

I don't remember his face, but in my mind is imprinted the memory of this soldier who gave me back the appearance of a free girl.

If he is still alive - and I hope it so much - I would like him to know that I often think about him, and it would be marvellous if he could recognise himself in this story.

Mrs. Marie Lipstadt-Pinhas, Brussels, Belgium.
Liberated from Turkheim (Dachau) concentration camp on 27th April 1945 by the 7th U.S. Army, 10th Armored Division.

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